TWO REHOBOTH FARMS TO RECEIVE GRANTS FROM THE AGRICULTURAL
FOOD SAFETY IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM
(December 22, 2016) The Baker-Polito Administration recently announced $200,000 in grants to 24 Massachusetts farms, including two in Rehoboth, to install practices that improve food safety within their operations.
The Farmer’s Garden, and Souza Family Farm in Rehoboth will each receive grants from the Agricultural Food Safety Improvement Program (AFSIP) to address food safety upgrades on their farms enabling the operations to meet buyer demands, increase consumption of local food, as well as protect public health by reducing food safety risks.
The Farmer’s Garden was awarded $20,000 for a washing and packing facility, while the Souza Family Farm was awarded $7,522 for bins, refrigeration and shading.
“Upgrading existing farm infrastructure is important for the Commonwealth’s agricultural businesses to maintain high quality, locally produced products in a safe, sustainable way,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our administration is committed to ensuring Massachusetts famers have the tools they need to adopt the best food safety practices for the benefits of all consumers.”
According to State Representative Steven Howitt (R-Seekonk) who represents Rehoboth, “The promotion of good food safety practices is critical for our farms in their efforts to build wholesaler and consumer confidence.” He added, “I’m grateful to the Baker-Polito Administration for their leadership in this ever-growing sector of agriculture. MDAR’s efforts to support the development of farm food safety infrastructure allow our farms to build that confidence, access greater wholesale opportunities, and increase their farms’ viability.”
“It’s exciting to see that Rehoboth’s Souza Family Farm and The Farmer’s Garden would be receiving this grant,” said State Senator Jim Timilty (D-Walpole). “Food Safety Operations are vital to our Commonwealth’s agricultural businesses and the growing popularity of locally grow food. I look forward to visiting these facilities in the new year to see these grants put to action.”
By implementing eligible upgrades the farms will be able to protect public health, sustain public confidence in the food system, meet buyer requirements, and follow new regulations under the Federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
This round of grant funding has a focus on assisting commercial oyster farmers with meeting the Department of Marine Fisheries and the Department of Public Health (DPH) Vibrio Control Program. Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) is a human pathogen known to cause foodborne illnesses from the consumption of raw oysters. In an effort to address these foodborne illnesses the Vp Control Plan requires strict harvesting controls for oysters. Examples of awards to aquaculture operations to help meet these requirements include commercial coolers, cold storage, and ice machines all working towards reducing the temperature of oysters at harvest and continued cooling of oysters thereafter.
“Food safety practices are vital to ensuring our citizens have access to the fresh, local food that the Commonwealth’s local farmers are known for,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to supporting our local farms through the AFSIP grant program so that they are prepared to provide products grown, harvested and processed here in Massachusetts.”
“Assisting farmers through both grants and technical assistance will help modernize their operations and continue to strengthen our local food supply and the agricultural industry,” said Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux. “We are committed to the goal of ensuring food safety from farm to table.”DAR’s mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts.
Through its four divisions – Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services – DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR’s website.
CONGRESSMAN JOE KENNEDY SHARES IMMIGRANT’S STORY WITH CONSTITUENTS
(February 1, 2017) Last week, I toured a community health center in Worcester where I met a 42-year-old Muslim refugee from Baghdad. After three years in a Turkish refugee camp with his wife and children, he finally arrived in the United States late last year.
In Iraq, he was a musician. Thanks to a doctor at this health center, he was able to secure a trumpet here in the United States. So after telling me his story, he picked up his beloved instrument and began to play our national anthem with tears streaming down his face – because this proud and kind country had opened its doors and let him in.
A few hours later, our new President slammed those doors shut on refugees like this man with the simple stroke of his pen. Not to mention many immigrants and even legal residents. This morning, I stood on the floor of the House of Representatives and shared his story with my colleagues to demand that the President reconsider his disgraceful, unpatriotic executive order.
You can watch my speech on YouTube, and I hope you will share it with your friends and family members.
Congressman Joseph Kennedy, III represented Rehoboth in the United States House of Representatives
JOINT LETTER FROM MASSACHUSETTS HEADS OF CHURCHES
“Our Increased Compassion, Not Our Hardened Hearts”
(February 1, 2017) We speak together, as Church leaders in Massachusetts, on the injurious Executive Action restricting refugees, issued on Friday January 27, 2017 entitled, "Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States."
Our Christian tradition is clear. Deuteronomy 10:19 commands, "You shall also love the foreigner, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt." The Holy Family was forced to flee the violence of their homeland (Matthew 2). Our Savior was a migrant. We hear Jesus Christ declare in Matthew 25 that His followers will be judged if we do not welcome the stranger. We stand under that judgment today.
We believe in the aspirations of our nation, a place where all people long to live in safety. We remember with horror our nation's decision in 1939 to refuse the refugees on the MS St. Louis, a ship of German Jews, condemning many to death. Refugees invite our increased compassion, not our hardened hearts.
We echo the words of Bishop Joe Vasquez of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
"We believe in assisting all those who are vulnerable and fleeing persecution, regardless of their religion. This includes Christians, as well as Yazidis and Shia Muslims from Syria, Rohingyas from Burma, and other religious minorities. However, we need to protect all our brothers and sisters of all faiths, including Muslims, who have lost family, home, and country."
We grieve this decision to limit refugees, as it will cause further suffering, not just to our fellow Christians escaping persecution, but all refugees fleeing violence.
As Christians we try to live our lives in accordance with Jesus' Great Commandment - to love our neighbors as ourselves. We want safe homes, the freedom to worship, stable governments, and opportunities to thrive. Refugees desire the same. Our nation is founded on this welcome. We must make sure that we do not allow fear to overwhelm us, crowd out our compassion, or fundamentally change our character.
Therefore, we pledge our voices and our churches' active support to resettle refugees in Massachusetts. We call on elected leaders, including President Trump, to reconsider the Executive Action to limit refugee resettlement. We have and will continue to welcome and support refugees. Our churches are in every single city and town of Massachusetts. And, we ask our churches to reach out in love and Christian hospitality to the refugees living near them. We encourage our churches to show compassion and support to those who have fled hardship and violence.
Signed: The Rev. Fr. Arakel Aljalian, Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America; The Rev. Dr. Jim Antal, Minister and President, Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ; Mr. Anthony Barsamian, President, Massachusetts Council of Churches; Reverend Howard K. Burgoyne, Superintendent, East Coast Conference, Evangelical Covenant Church; Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V. Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River; Reverend Dr. Harold M. Delhagen, Synod Leader/Executive for The Synod of the Northeast, Presbyterian Church (USA); Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar, Bishop, United Methodist Church, New England Conference; Reverend Laura Everett, Executive Director, Massachusetts Council of Churches; The Rt. Rev. Douglas Fisher, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts; The Rt. Rev. Alan Gates, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts; The Rt. Rev. Gayle Harris, Bishop Suffragan, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts; Bishop Jim Hazelwood, New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Reverend Jocelyn Hart Lovelace, Presiding Elder, African Methodist Episcopal Church, Boston-Hartford District; His Grace Bishop John, Diocese of Worcester and New England, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America; Reverend Mary Day Miller, Executive Minister, The American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts; Noah Merrill, Secretary & Frederick Weiss, Presiding Clerk, New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers); Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts
(March 24, 2017) The Dighton Rehoboth Regional School District will host STEAMposium, an exciting new, free event to be held on Saturday, March 25 from 10 AM to 2 PM at Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School.
Superintendent Dr. Anthony Azar says the district is proud to offer this special event featuring hands-on activities, interactive exhibits, presentations, exploration and fun for all ages in the STEAM fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics
Student STEAM projects and examples of lessons will be on display and students will be on-hand to describe their learning. These exhibits/demos will include the award-winning First Lego League Robotics teams, CO2 car racetrack, Green Team display, student art and design, STEAM challenges, forensic activities, building and magnets, earthquake and volcanoes, math games and a student created nature trail with Story Walk!
This event is open to the public and community members are encouraged to attend. Snacks and lunch will be available for purchase throughout the event so plan to stay all day.
In addition to the student exhibits, many community partners will participate, ready to engage in activities and discussions:
SMARTS Collaborative hosting a recyclable design challenge space
MA Audubon from the Oak Knoll property with a naturalist and artifacts
University of MA-Dartmouth Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship bringing their electric motorcycles and underwater ROVs robots and drone engines
Rehoboth Rescue Team with their ambulance and power lift stretcher, as well as a CPR game
Robotics Champions will demonstrate Ozobot/OzoBlocky and have 3D design demos
TRANE will highlight energy sources and display solar panels, real-time building monitoring and will give tours of the new DRRHS biomass boiler
Bristol Community College will host multiple areas including robotics, coding biotech/genetics and medical laboratory science
Ocean Spray will offer students a chance to create a ‘bog in a cup’
NOAA/National Weather Service has interactive weather gauges and a video
Massasoit Community College will offer multiple displays
For more information about the STEAMposium, contact Kerri Anne Quinlan-Zhou, email@example.com, 508-252-5000, ext 5146. For additional information about the program contact Karen Rose, DRRSD STEAM Specialist firstname.lastname@example.org.
PROGRESS REPORT ON IMPROVEMENTS TO
GLADYS L. HURRELL SENIOR CENTER
Update submitted by the Rehoboth Council on Aging
(April 19, 2017) Last year at May town meeting, Rehoboth voters approved two capital projects for the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center. These were a replacement heating system boiler and a self-contained (aka “whole house”) generator to provide full power to the building in the event of a power outage. Here is an update on the status of those projects, plus follow-up information on two other older projects. (photos by Norm Spring)
Replacement Heating System Boiler
The original boiler at the senior center was in need of frequent and expensive repairs and subject to unexpected shut-downs in cold weather. The replacement system is now in operation and is much less trouble, and much more efficient than the old boiler. It is a “condenser boiler” which means it recovers heat that would otherwise go up the chimney.
In fact, the exhaust gas is so cool that it leaves the building in two PVC plastic pipes located in the back wall of the building. The other two plastic pipes are there to supply input air to the boiler. This new system will save the town money in greatly reduced maintenance and fuel costs, as well as providing reliable heat and hot water.
Although funding for the boiler was originally through town meeting, Representative Steven Howitt and Senator James Timilty worked diligently to secure state funding of $50,000 for this project, allowing the original funds to be returned to the town. We thank them for this hard work!
Self Contained “Whole House” Generator
The installation of a self contained, 100 KW, 3 phase generator was completed in early February 2017. It is located in the “corral” behind the building on a concrete pad that was part of the installation. This generator will allow the senior center to be used as a warming center in the event of a winter power failure. Of course, it would become a cooling center in the event of a summer power failure (think hurricane).
To assure it is always ready to run, the generator will start itself once/week, and run for about 20 minutes while performing an internal diagnostic check. This keeps the battery charged, fuel lines clear, and assures the generator can come on line with minimum disruption.
Two Older Projects: Replace/Relocate Freezer and Refrigerator Compressors
In late spring of 2015, students from Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical High School installed a new compressor to serve the walk-in freezer at the senior center. The original compressor had been problematic for years, leaving the freezer unusable.
As part of this project, the new compressor was located in what was originally planned to be a loading dock at the side of the building, but never used. This allowed the compressor to be placed close to the building for easier installation and maintenance.
BP students also fabricated an aluminum stand for the unit to keep it off of the ground and out of winter snow. In the spring of 2016, BP students returned to relocate the compressor for the refrigerator at the senior center. This moved the second compressor next to the first one, again, on a stand built by the students.
Both projects were funded internally by the senior center and so required no taxpayer dollars to complete. Also, the move of these two compressors freed up space behind the building that was then used for the mounting pad for the generator mentioned earlier. This allowed the generator to be located in the best position for installation and maintenance. Finally, having a working freezer has allowed the senior center to accept food donations from local stores that previously could not be accepted.
OP-ED: VISITING NURSE AGENCY URGES SUPPORT FOR “ENOUGH PAY TO STAY”
by Kathy Trier, Executive Director and CEO, Community VNA
(April 26, 2017) Picture a widowed woman in her mid-80s. She needs help daily with bathing, dressing and toileting. But she has one more problem: she has been told that there are no workers available to come into her home to fill all the hours of care she needs.
This scenario is happening more and more across the Commonwealth and right here in greater Attleboro. The recruitment and retention of home care aides and home health aides poses a real threat to the independence of many of our older neighbors. The image of a low-wage/high-turnover job makes it hard to find and keep home care workers. The fact is that we must do better if we are to keep up with our fastest growing demographic—those over the age of 60. We must give these essential home care workers "enough pay to stay."
Representative Aaron Vega (D-Holyoke) has filed an important elder home care workforce amendment to the House of Representatives’ budget that will soon be up for floor debate in the House. Rep. Vega’s amendment was supported by a workforce coalition of three major elder groups in the state: Mass Home Care, the Home Care Aide Council of Massachusetts, and the Home Care Alliance.
The amendment would provide immediate rate relief to support the wages and benefits earned by the following frontline home care workers: Homemakers/Personal Care Homemakers (wage and benefit increase of $1.43 per hour) and Home Health Aides (wage and benefit increase of $.72 per hour).
Long term services and supports providers, such as Community VNA, are facing unprecedented challenges to recruit and retain the highly trained workforce needed to provide quality care to clients in the community.
Homemakers and Home Health Aides are among the lowest paid workers in Massachusetts. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage for a Homemaker is $13.05 and the average wage for a Home Health Aide is $13.78 an hour.
Massachusetts has a proud tradition of committing to community based care and that commitment is both good social policy, and sound fiscal policy. Working with the home care community has resulted in a 37% drop in the number of nursing home patient days paid for by the state Medicaid program between FY 2000 and FY 2016.
While these efforts to “rebalance” where citizens receive long term care have been successful, they have not been met with the necessary reinvestments in the community workforce. The Vega amendment is a needed step to reinvest some of those savings in the workforce who are making it possible to stay home with help.
About Community VNA
Community VNA has been dedicated to enhancing health, wellness and quality of life for more than 100 years, providing a range of services, including: Home Health Care, Hospice Care, Palliative Care, Private Care, Adult Day Health Care, Alzheimer’s Assistance Program, as well as Lifeline services and annual Elder Dental Clinics. Community VNA was awarded 2016 Home Care Elite Status (ranked among the top 25% of home health care agencies nationwide) marking the sixth year for this recognition. Community VNA serves area communities including Rehoboth. (photo credit: Jen Osojnicki)
Advisory from MA Division of Fisheries & Wildlife
(May 26, 2017) Recent reports of people finding fawns (newborn deer) they believe to be abandoned are prompting MassWildlife biologists to remind everyone: "If you care, leave them there."
From mid-May through June, does (female deer) give birth to thousands of fawns in Massachusetts. During this time, well-intentioned people contact MassWildife wanting to help a fawn they found alone and think is "orphaned." Fawns are commonly found bedded in thick vegetation or grassy areas, even close to homes or near roadways.
"It's completely normal for fawns to be left alone by does for 6-8 hours at a time," says David Stainbrook, MassWildlife Deer Biologist. "Fawns are safe because their spotted coats look like dappled sunlight on the forest floor and offer great camouflage from their colorblind predators. The best thing people can do to help a fawn is leave it alone."
In its first weeks of life, a fawn's instinct is to remain motionless and let danger pass. Fawns view approaching humans as predators and freeze to prevent detection. Don't assume that a fawn seen in the same place for several days is abandoned. Does visit their fawns for nursing very infrequently, an adaptation that helps fawns avoid predators.
All young fawns appear skinny and may look awkward as they are learning to walk, but it's not an indication they are starving or injured. Once old enough to outrun predators (about 6 weeks), fawns will spend more time with the doe.
Found a Fawn?
•Don't touch it or pick it up: Young fawns remain bedded alone for most of the day and night. The doe is probably feeding or bedded nearby. A sibling (twin fawn) may also be hiding nearby. If you linger, fawns may try to follow you and your presence may prevent the doe from returning to nurse.
•If the fawn is crying: Walk far away! Fawn bleats sound like crying. Fawns bleat if they are alarmed or trying to locate their mother. The doe may bleat to the fawn, but will not approach if people are nearby.
•If you've taken a fawn from the wild: Immediately return the fawn to the place you found it in safe cover and leave the area. A fawn's best chance of survival is when it is cared for by its mother. Does will not abandon a fawn handled by humans even 2 to 5 days after removal from the wild.
•"Rescuing" fawns is illegal: Taking a fawn out of the wild is essentially "fawn-napping." Never feed a fawn; their stomachs are sensitive and the food or milk you give can be harmful. If the fawn is truly orphaned (dead lactating doe hit by car nearby), contact MassWildlife for advice before taking any action.
Misconceptions About Fawns
Each spring, MassWildlife receives reports from well-intentioned people who want to help a fawn that they found alone and thought was orphaned. However, it’s completely NORMAL for fawns to be left alone by their mother. It is the best thing the mother can do to protect her fawn. She is likely nearby watching you, but you probably won’t see her. The best thing YOU can do to help a fawn is to leave it alone. Enjoy the experience of nature, take a picture, but leave it there.
It’s normal for a fawn to be very still and appear unresponsive. Fawns view humans as predators and will drop their heads and freeze to not be detected. They don’t typically get up and run until they are older. It’s normal for a fawn to bleat in a way that sounds like crying when they are disturbed or trying to locate their mother. The mother will also vocalize with the fawn, but will not come close if you are nearby. It’s normal for a fawn to be alone for most of the day and night. The mother will return several times to nurse, but limits her time with the fawn to reduce predation risk. All fawns appear skinny, but this is not an indication they are starving or abandoned. Never feed a fawn because their stomachs are sensitive and food or milk can be very harmful to them.
MASS ACCESS TESTIFIES IN SUPPORT OF COMMUNITY ACCESS TELEVISION
(June 1, 2017) MassAccess, the nonprofit trade organization representing community media stations throughout Massachusetts, testified today in support of their legislation, ‘An Act to Support Community Access Television,’ filed by Senator John Keenan and Representative Ruth Balser. The Bill seeks to allow community media stations access to Electronic Programming Guides and channel signal quality that is comparable to local broadcast stations - now and in the future.
Local cable television channels, often called “PEG channels” to correspond with the mission of public, educational or government access, provide a valuable public service to the community. Passage of the Bill would require cable companies to allow for broadcast of PEG channels in HD format and inclusion of programming in viewers’ electronic guides. These two changes would allow for PEG channels to be on par with most other offerings in cable television, and allow for greater access for viewers.
“These stations provide a public service to Massachusetts residents,” said William Nay, General Manager, MashpeeTV, and MassAccess President. “The refusal to offer local channels in HD and access to the programming guide discriminates against cable subscribers in Massachusetts and hinders the independent voices in our communities by denying equal access to local stations.”
Massachusetts residents account for only 2% of the cable subscribers in the country, but accounts for 16% of all the community media stations in the country. There are over 200 local access cable TV centers in Massachusetts, the highest concentration of media centers in the country. Local Access TV is the last hyper-local outlet for citizens, providing access to municipal meetings and providing transparency in local government. Channels provide local notices and information for citizens and residents. Additionally, individual centers provide educational and media literacy training, while serving as community hubs and centers and a training ground for students who want to pursue careers in TV and film.
“In a world where media production has become global, the community media center has stayed true to its local roots…all while continuing to embrace emerging technology. This is what community media centers do,” said Melinda Garfield, Executive Director, Westwood Media Center and MassAccess Vice President. “But, to stay relevant and accessible, stations need the same consideration and treatment as other cable offerings.”
The bill was previously heard by the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy in November 2015, and given a “study order” in April 2016. Language relevant to the Bill was included in both the House and Senate versions of the Economic Development bill last year, but was omitted from the final version put forward.
Massachusetts Community Media, Inc. (MassAccess) is a non-profit, 501(c)(6), [membership-based], advocacy agency, guided by a volunteer board of community media professionals. Our goal is to ensure the future vitality of Massachusetts based community media centers by developing educational workshops, monitoring legislation, utilizing technology to inform and enhance community media centers, as well as acting as government liaisons to inform supporters across Massachusetts regarding the current political landscape in regards to media.
LOCAL WWII VETERAN AND SON PARTICIPATE IN HONOR FLIGHT NEW ENGLAND FOR VISIT TO WASHINGTON, DC
A veteran of World War II, the elder Goff served as First Class Season in the United States Navy. He, along with other veterans of WWII and the Korean War, were accompanied by their guardians on the special journey which began with a Massachusetts State Police escort to Logan International Airport in Boston. They were greeted by over a hundred well-wishers that thanked them for their military service.
After arriving in Baltimore to another police escort and the same enthusiastic reception, the veterans were able to tour the various military memorials in honor of World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force.They also visited Arlington National Cemetery to observe the Changing of the Guards at The Tomb of the Unknowns.
Although the younger Goff had visited the memorials himself in the past, the Honor Flight trip was a very special day for his father. Goff III said it was an privilege to serve as his father’s guardian to honor the men and women who sacrificed so much for their country so many years ago.
At every point of the Honor Flight trip, people would approach the elderly former soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen, most of whom were in their 90's, and thank them for their service.
Those interested in the Honor Flight program to take elderly veterans on a visit to Washington, DC should visit honorflightnewengland.org. You may also volunteer to be a guardian for a veteran on an upcoming trip.